I don’t know the precise suggest in humans’ evolutionary history where a genetic mutation offered moms an extra collection of eyes in the back of their heads, however it’s a offered truth that they have actually them.

You are watching: Eyes on the back of your head

Like the childhood circumstances once I tried to eat an earthworm, and my mom—engrossed in yard work—spun via saucer-sized eyes and a clump of weeds she was prepared to throw at me if I ongoing through my culinary expedition. I stopped, dumbestablished, that via her back completely turned, she knew.

And although that back-head pair of eyes is regularly chalked as much as folklore, recent research study says those stories might not be far from the fact.

But initially, let’s talk around just how some human being deserve to watch without actually seeing…


When I took my first university psychology class, Dr. Nuguy told me about an astounding phenomenon:

Researchers would take clearly blind individuals—world via no mindful ability to see—and throw a sphere at them. Although this sounds choose a cruel prank, the researchers had actually discovered that these patients would actually catch the ball.

When the patients were asked later just how they knew/were able to capture something they couldn’t check out, the patients had no explanation. They had actually no concept a round was thrown till it ended up in their hands.

So…what the heck?

Blindsight describes people that have actually damage to their main visual cortex, preventing them from consciously being able to check out anypoint.

However before, bereason of other structures in the brain, such as the premium colliculus (a much less “evolved” location concerned vision) and the lateral geniculate nucleus (an area that procedures the position and activity of objects), these otherwise blind people are able “to see” certain points. Or quite, their brains are able to.

Which, deserve to we take a moment to acexpertise, is pretty darn remarkable…

But what about the spots that people with continuous vision are “blind” to? You know, behind the head?

(Shioiri et al., 2018)


As I began this write-up, it’s common for us to attribute eyes to the earlier of people’s (mothers’) heads. And also though we don’t really have eyeballs back tright here, the brain does simulate some for us.

Researchers had participants come right into the lab wright here they were surrounded with six LCD displays (watch right). Participants then had actually to perform a visual search task, where a bunch of letters would show up on all the screens, and the participant would need to determine a particular one.

What the participants didn’t understand, though, was that some of the letter trends repeated. That is, although participants had no mindful awareness that these patterns of letters (additionally shown right) were repeating, the brain someexactly how remembered.

Consequently, the researchers discovered that also though participants believed each trial of the visual search job was unique, they were nonetheless able to even more easily identify where the particular letter was “hiding,” even as soon as that letter was out of sight behind them.

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In a sense, then, the brain creates a non-mindful, 360° representation of the area about you. So even though the mindful mind doesn’t clearly accessibility it, the brain’s psychological map deserve to still influence our habits (simply choose via blindsight).


Together, this research highlights a number of points. First, moms (prefer every one of us) do have these “simulated eyes” for the environment behind them. (And perhaps, though it’s not been tested, these mental maps are more accessible for moms, especially as soon as a son is roughly.) 2nd, there are factors exterior our mindful awareness that affect our thoughts and habits. And 3rd, you should check out the Psychoapproach to Ponder section for a fun optical illusion that highlights your very own seeing without seeing